DRINK } Great Spots for Warm Cocktails

At PS 7's, Gina Chersevani combines pilsner, marigold tea and gin for a delicious winter drink.
Photo by Ashlie Hughes

I’m one of those people who thoroughly enjoys each and every season, and feels betrayed when any of them is abbreviated, or less pronounced than my romantic expectations. When DC’s winter chill finally sweeps in, I can’t wait for the comforting ritual of bundling up against the elements, or snuggling up by the fire with a warming libation.

You may not have the fire, but plenty of area restaurants are offering a respite from the cold in the form of seasonal hot cocktails. Here’s a roundup of winter warmers to keep you toasty and happy all season long…

America Eats Tavern: José Andrés’ pop-up restaurant, America Eats Tavern, focuses on food and drink of years past. Their inspired cocktail menu offers the Apple Toddy – a glass of buttery deliciousness. The warmer combines steaming house-made apple cider and Laird’s Apple Jack, which just happens to be fat washed with butter. Need I say more?

Graffiato: At Graffiato you can find Hot in the City, a combination of pear cider, Jefferson’s rye, fall spices, and honey, topped with a cinnamon stick and orange zest. It definitely packs a punch!

Jackie’s Sidebar: By request, Silver Spring’s Sidebar offers the Sidebar Nutty Irishman, a coffee-based drink with Red Breast Irish whiskey, Nocello liqueur, house-made whipped cream, all lovingly topped with chocolate bitters.

Jackson 20: Old Town’s modern take on the tavern, Jackson 20 offers two delicious and warming selections. The Bourbon Hot Chocolate made with Bulleit bourbon, Godiva dark chocolate liqueur and house-made hot chocolate, is the perfect winter indulgence. By the Fire, a mix of Grand Marnier, Tuaca, butterscotch schnapps and hot apple cider, happens to be my favorite on the menu.

Poste: Check out Poste’s recently opened winter courtyard bar when the weather is particularly chilly. The cozy space, located on the upper courtyard offers heaters, fire pits, and plenty of blankets. Cocktail options include This Little Piggy made with bacon-infused Bulleit bourbon, spicy cayenne chocolate, milk and toasted marshmallow. Also on the menu, Mother’s Warmth, sommelier Daniel Lobsenz’s mother's recipe, is a mix of Pyrat rum, mulled apple cider, and brandied cranberries. The winter bar is open, weather permitting, Thursday through Saturday.

P.O.V at the W hotel: With some of the best views in the city, the terrace at P.O.V keeps guests warm in winter with concoctions like the Whiskey Skin, with hot water, a little lemon and a healthy dose of Scotch. Or go for the hot apple buttered rum or Sheridan's coffee with brown sugar and Jameson.

PS 7’s: One of my favorite warm cocktails of the season can be found at PS7’s. The Tea Time combines Scrimshaw Pilsner, marigold tea, lemon juice and sugar into a delicate and unique winter warmer. Here’s how to cook up a batch at home:

Tea Time
recipe courtesy of Gina Chersevani

makes 4-5 servings

16 ounces Scrimshaw Pilsner
16 ounces marigold tea
4 ounces lemon juice
1/2 cup sugar
Hendrick's gin
pink lady apple to garnish, cored and sliced

Add first four ingredients to a crock pot or heavy pot over medium heat. Warm until hot. Serve hot, with 1/2 ounce gin per serving.

Room 11: On a recent night out at Room 11, wrapped up in one of the restaurant’s blankets, I enjoyed several warm cocktails in front of their fire pit — an experience I hope to continue throughout the season. A regular on Room 11’s creative menu is the Swedish mulled wine known as Glögg. The drink is heated with a variety of wintertime spices including cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, and with the addition of raisins, crystallized ginger, orange peel, and aquavit makes for a very distinctive drink. Not always on the menu, but readily available, is the Lil’ Bird cocktail which includes Tuaca, the aromatic Hum liqueur, and Kaffir lime.

Vermilion: The cozy bar and lounge at Vermilion is a perfect spot to grab a warm drink. Try the Siggy’s Hot Toddy, amed after the general manager’s grandfather. It's a toasty concoction of Buffalo Trace bourbon, lemon, cloves, honey, cinnamon and hot water. My favorite on the menu is the Hot Buttered Rum, a butter infused Cruzan rum dreamed up by Columbia Firehouse manager and mixologist Steve Warner, featuring Vermilion bar manager Laura Hammond’s special brown sugar blend. Too cold to venture outside? Vermilion’s recipe is below:

Hot Buttered Rum
recipe courtesy of Laura Hammond

1.5 ounce butter infused dark rum (Hammond recommends Cruzan Black Strap)
1 tablespoon brown sugar butter (recipe below)
1 orange peel
7 ounces hot water

Infuse Cruzan Black Strap rum with butter to begin. Melt two sticks of butter. Take off heat and add to one 750ml bottle of rum in a large bowl or pitcher. Let infuse for about a day, then freeze (this will separate the butter from the liquid). Strain the rum through a coffee filter or cheesecloth.

To assemble the cocktail, add all ingredients to a mug, stir and enjoy.

Brown Sugar Butter

1 cup light brown sugar
1 cup dark brown sugar
1 stick butter (room temperature)
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
pinch of cloves
pinch of salt

Mix all ingredients together.

More Metrocurean favorites for wintry cocktails: Bourbon Steak, Gibson, Tabard Inn, The Passenger

Ashlie Hughes is pursuing her longtime dream of writing about food and travel. During her free time she enjoys trying new restaurants, searching for the perfect cocktail, and daydreaming about traveling the world. She currently writes a column titled The Aperitif and other articles for Patch.com.